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Extreme Roadmap Plots Broader View of Mobility

Tim Greene | March 3, 2011
Extreme Networks' new product roadmap has a catchy name -- Make Your Network Mobile -- but it might be a little misleading since the plan has little to do with iPhones, tablets or moving around between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

Phase 2 of Extreme's roadmap, which will roll out during the course of this year, calls for providing identity management tools that can determine who users are, what device they are using and what resources they are authorized to use.

The tools will make it possible to enforce these rules, but not end-to-end, according to David Ginsburg, the company's new senior vice president of strategic marketing. Networks in this phase will be marked by pockets identity awareness only, he says, and switch ports that will be configured automatically based on policies.

These pockets will be tied together in Phase 3, which will start rolling out in 2012, Ginsburg says, by adding a policy and control layer to network management to provide identity management features. This will likely be achieved by partnering for a policy-management layer in its software.

This phase will also include efforts to flatten Extreme's data-center architecture from five tiers to three, he says. This includes pulling virtual switch functionality away from hypervisors and putting it into Extreme's top-of-rack switches.

The company also says it will boost the density of data-center switches later this year in an effort to combine the aggregation and core switching tiers into one, according to Ginsburg. He says the company will look to other hardware vendors to provide gear that enables top-of-rack switches to interface with a dispersed switching fabric within the data center.

Phase 4 brings this identity management into cloud infrastructures, so if a business application on a virtual machine in a private network migrated to a server in a cloud network, end users would automatically be able to reach the new instance of the application without knowing about the move, he says.

In the final phase, identity management will be extended to mobile carrier networks that use Extreme's recently announced E4G mobile backhaul routers. So mobile customers using 4G networks will be able to receive tiered bandwidth services.

The Make Your Network Mobile name alone will make Extreme stand out, Kerravala says. "I don't know of any other switch vendor marketing around mobility," he says. "It's a gutsy move. It's the best positioning they've had in a long time."

And if it succeeds? "It isn't going to make them Cisco," Kerravala says.

 

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